Midland High School Auditorium
Midland, TX


Midland High School main entrance - 1955
1955 Yearbook Photo courtesy Mary Hurst

Midland, TX was originally founded as the midway point between Fort Worth and El Paso. The original Midland High School in Midland, TX was built in 1926 and was moved twenty-three years later to a new building in 1949 at 906 West Illinois Avenue.1


Midland High School Auditorium - 1955
1955 Yearbook Photo courtesy Mary Hurst

The auditorium and stage at the High School were built in 1949 along with the rest of the new facilities.1  The auditorium, including the balcony, seats approximately 1,600.


Midland High School Band onstage in the Auditorium - 1955
1955 Yearbook Photo courtesy Mary Hurst

 
School production in the Midland High School Auditorium - 1956
1956 Yearbook Photo courtesy Mary Hurst

On January 7, 1955, the day before Elvis' 20th birthday, Elvis, Scotty and Bill performed at the High School along with several other acts from the Louisiana hayride in what was billed as a "Western Show."  They had appeared with several of the acts on the 6th at the Fair Park Coliseum in Lubbock as a result of KDAV radio owner Dave Stone. 

Joe Treadway was a co-owner with Stone of  KPEP radio station in San Angelo.  Treadway had been responsible for bringing the boys to San Angelo on the 5th and had teamed up with Midland/Odessa Radio KJBC deejay Keith Ward to bring them to Midland on the 7th.2 The Midland paper on the 6th advertised:

The Midland Reporter-Telegram, Thursday, January 6, 1955
Western Show Here Friday To Feature Hayride Stars

Five "top-billing" stars of the Louisiana Hayride - plus a Hayride Western Band - will be in Midland Friday for an 8 p.m. show in Midland High School Auditorium.
The show, sponsored by the Midland Youth Center and the high school student council, will feature Elvis Presley, king of Western "bop;" Bill Walker, the tall Texan; comic singers Jimmy and Johnny, and comedian Peach Seed Jones, radio, television and stage funnyman.
Nineteen-year-old Presley, fast becoming one of the top stars in Western music circles, is noted for such recordings as "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Good Rocking Tonight," "That's All Right," and "I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine."
Walker, who stands six feet, three inches, has made about 20 recordings among them "Anything Your Heart Desires," "Pretend You Just Don't Know Me," "Thank You for Calling," and "You Are the Only Good Thing That's Happened to Me."
Jimmy and Johnny won their way to fame with such songs as "If You Don't Someone Else Will."
Proceeds of the show will go to the Youth Center's operating fund.

article courtesy Ger Rijff

Mrs. Treadway, Joe's wife, brought them into Midland's radio station for an interview and to plug the show.2 According to Billboard magazine, over 1600 people bought tickets. Cecil Holifield owned record shops in Odessa and Midland. Shirley McDade, a high school senior that worked part-time at Holifield's Record Shop in Midland at the time, recalls that Elvis also dropped by the shop in January. The band would perform in the West Texas area several more times that year.  In the early days on their jaunts into west Texas, or just passing through, Elvis would stay at the Holifield's home.4 "Peach Seed Jones" was actually Tillman Franks, who in addition to promoting acts for the Hayride also did comedy and played bass fiddle.


Elvis backstage at Midland HS - May 31, 1955
Photo courtesy Stanley Oberst's Elvis in Texas added March 27, 2013

The boys made their second appearance at the Midland High Auditorium on May 31, 1955 for a 7:30 p.m. show. Billboard reported,  "Elvis Presley continues to gather speed over the South," writes Cecil Holifield, operator of the Record Shops in Midland and Odessa, Tex. "West Texas is his hottest territory to date," continues Holifield, "and he is the teenagers' favorite wherever he appears. His original appearance in the area was in January, with Billy Walker at Midland, Tex., to more than 1,600 paid admissions. In February, with Hank Snow at Odessa, 20 miles form Midland, paid attendance hit over 4000. On April 1, we booked Elvis and his boys, Bill and Scotty, plus Floyd Cramer on piano and a local boy on drums for a rockin' and rollin' dance for teen-agers, and pulled 850 paid admissions. We are booking Elvis for May 31, heading his own show with Ferlin Huskey, the Carlisles, Martha, Carson. J.E. and Maxine Brown and Onie Wheeler on a round robin starting at 7:30 p.m. in Midland and 8:30 p.m. in Odessa. Incidentally, our sales of Presley's four records have beat any individual artist in our eight years in the record business." As the opening acts finished in Midland they drove immediately to Odessa for the 8:30 p.m. show.


Reporter Telegram-Oct. 11, 1955
courtesy Francesc Lopez

They made their third and final appearance at the High School Auditorium on October 12, 1955. The 7:30 show cost $1.25 in advance and $1.50 at the door, children 50 cents.It is reputedly at this show that Elvis met Roy Orbison for the first time though Roy had wanted to meet him since seeing him perform at least as early as Dallas in April while attending college at North Texas State University in Denton near Fort Worth.

The Oct. 12 package show starred Elvis Presley and featured Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson, Floyd Cramer, Porter Wagoner, Bobby Lord, Jimmy C. Newman and Jimmy Day. Jane Carrens, a student at Midland High at the time, who later became principal there, said it is amazing to look back and think how accommodating the school administration was for such events. In fact, classes were often called off when a big name act was scheduled to appear in the evening, so that students could attend a free preview in the school auditorium.  "It was crazy to see how the girls reacted to Elvis," Carrens said. "These were friends of mine and they just went crazy when he came on stage."6


Roy Orbison an Charline Arthur in Dallas - ca.1956
Photo courtesy Steve Bonner

Only 19 at the time of the last Midland show, Roy Orbison had been born in Vernon, TX , raised in Wink, TX and in the fall of 55 transferred to Odessa Junior college for his second year (previously at North State a college buddy, Pat Boone, recommended he write more pop oriented songs).  With some members of his high school days band, the Wink Westerners, he formed the Teen Kings, who were regularly featured at local dances and talent shows and on Television stations KMID and KOSA.  Cecil Holifield Jr., a student at MHS, said his dad not only promoted the Presley and Cash concert, but also arranged for various stars to appear on TV and radio in Midland/Odessa. In addition, "Pop" Holifield Sr., was also an adviser to Orbison about his would-be career. One of the performances he arranged was a Wednesday afternoon appearance on KMID (the day of the show).  Also scheduled to appear on the show was Johnny Cash.6 **

It is rumored that Holifield asked Cash to appear on KMID because he knew that Orbison would also be performing.  Cash was dazzled by his abilities and invited Orbison to the Midland High concert with a promise that he could finally meet Elvis. Oberst said, "By this time nobody was getting backstage unless they were let backed by someone like Cash. There were just too many girls wanting a piece of Elvis. There were also a lot of jealous boyfriends that they didn't want back there."6

Johnny suggested to Roy that he call Sam Phillips at Sun, whose response was something to the effect "Johnny Cash doesn't run my record company!"  However, Holifield would later play a recording of Roy's "Ooby Dooby" for Sam that eventually got Roy an invite and ultimately a contract with Sun in March of 1956.7


Midland High School main entrance - 2005
Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Today the High School (officially Midland Senior High School) is part of Midland Independent School District. It hosts only high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors (10th-12th grades) as Midland Freshman High School serves as a feeder school hosting freshman high school students.1


Midland High School Auditorium - 2008
Photo courtesy Google Street Maps

Both Midland High School and Midland Freshman High School use the same school mascot, the Midland High Bulldog. Also, the freshmen year of each class the Midland Freshmen school holds a Bulldog Beauty contest where real English bulldogs come and the Freshmen class votes on their class mascot. This dog stays and remains their class mascot through their senior year.1


Midland High School Auditorium Stage - Sept 1, 2009
Photo by Jill Howbert courtesy Mary Hurst

In recent years, the school has received major renovations including complete asbestos removal and new science wing but the auditorium is basically the same.1


Midland High School Auditorium - Sept 1, 2009
Photo by Jill Howbert courtesy Mary Hurst


Midland High School Auditorium Stage - Sept 1, 2009
Photo by Jill Howbert courtesy Mary Hurst

A fire in 2008 though required some replacement work. About the only difference they have made is when they remodeled they took out one set of steps going up to the stage, now we only have one set. They have also replaced the curtains.8


Aerial view of Midland High School Auditorium - 2009
Photo Microsoft EarthData


Aerial view of Midland High School - 2009
Photo Microsoft EarthData

page added September 14, 2009
 

** It's been speculated and rumored that Elvis also appeared on the same KMID television show as Johnny and Roy.  Scotty said he has no recollection of having been anywhere with Roy Orbison on stage, or performed or made an appearance as a band and if Elvis did so without the band he has no recollection of this ever happening.  Some people have claimed to have actually seen footage but to date nothing has publicly surfaced to substantiate that any exists or that Elvis actually made any appearance.

Special Thanks to Mary Hurst of the Midland High School Library for her assistance with photos for this page, to Gary Gardner of the Midland County Public Library and to AEK's Luuk Bonthond for The Billboard links.

1 according to wikipedia
2 according to "Rockin' across Texas" by Stanley Oberst
3 excerpt from "The Billboard" - June 4, 1955
4 according to "Early Elvis The Sun Years" by Bill E. Burk
5 according to "Did Elvis Sing in Your Hometown" by Lee Cotten
6 excerpted from "Midland '55: When Orbison Met Elvis" by W.W. Bear Mills courtesy Elvis Information Network
7 according to The Sun Record Company's "Roy Orbison" June 28, 2007
8 according to Mary Hurst, Midland High School Library

 

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